Nick Cassavetes Helming Iron Man

New Line Cinema and Marvel Studios, a division of leading global entertainment company Marvel Enterprises, have signed Nick Cassavetes (“The Notebook,” “John Q”) to direct the highly-anticipated big screen adaptation of Iron Man, based on the legendary Marvel Super Hero. The film is scheduled to be a 2006 tentpole release.

The project, which is being produced by Marvel Studios’ CEO Avi Arad (Spider-Man, X-Men) and Angry Films’ Don Murphy, is based on a script by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and David Hayter. The studios will begin casting immediately.

“This is an ideal situation because Nick is a tremendous talent with a passion for the material, and we have had such incredible success working with both him and Marvel in the past,” said New Line production president Toby Emmerich. “Teaming up again to launch a franchise as promising as ‘Iron Man’ is very exciting.”

Arad added, “Being able to work with such an acclaimed writer/director as Nick Cassavetes to bring one of our pre-eminent Super Hero franchises to the big screen is really special. Nick grew up reading ‘Iron Man’ and personally loves the character. He shares our vision of how to bring ‘Iron Man’ to life in a way that will appeal to a mass audience as well as the core Super Hero fan base. This deal with Nick marks the perfect way to launch our second big Marvel franchise with New Line, a studio that we have enjoyed a great relationship with in building the Blade character into a Hollywood heavyweight.”

Based on the long-running Marvel comic book series, Iron Man tells the story of Tony Stark, the enigmatic heir to the Stark Enterprises fortune. A driven inventor and executive who seems to have it all, Tony is haunted by his dark side. Though he commands his empire by day, by night he secretly becomes “Iron Man,” the living embodiment of decades of defense spending and innovation. Strapping on billions of dollars worth of state-of-the-art armor and weaponry each night to fight crime, terrorism and corporate espionage, Tony begins to crack under the strain of his fractured lifestyle and must ultimately confront the one enemy he can never beat — himself.

Iron Man marks the continuation of New Line’s successful relationship with Marvel, which was initiated with the studio’s hit adaptation of Blade in 1998. New Line built on the initial film’s success with the release of Blade II in 2002, and is set to release the third installment of the franchise, Blade: Trinity, on Dec. 8.

Cassavetes’ relationship with New Line has also proved to be a profitable one in recent years. His last directorial effort, “The Notebook,” was one of this summer’s biggest hits at the box office. He also directed the 2002 hit film “John Q” for the studio and is currently in production on the drama “Alpha Dog,” which features an ensemble cast including Bruce Willis, Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone and Emile Hirsch.

Marvel has an impressive track record when it comes to translating its renowned Super Heroes to the big screen with such blockbusters as Spider- Man, Spider-Man 2, X-Men, X-Men 2, Daredevil, and The Hulk. The company is also currently in production on the much buzzed about adaptation of Fantastic Four, which hits theaters July 1, 2005.

Emmerich is overseeing Iron Man for New Line along with the studio’s senior vp production Stokely Chaffin, vp George Waud and creative executive Jeff Katz. Spearheading the production for Marvel Studios are Kevin Feige and Ari Arad.

Source: New Line Cinema